Your guide to Rumble Strips: How do they work?

Rumble Strips

If you have already begun researching rumble strips suppliers, you are likely to have already contemplated installing rumble strips at your property. However, you may not have fully assessed whether they would be the correct choice for traffic control and optimum safety. Here we will explore the pros and cons of rumble strips, so you can have all the details you need to make an informed decision.

Rumble Strips Basics

Simply put, rumble strips are rows of raised markers that can be placed in the roadway to create noise and vibration when the tyres of a vehicle make contact. The vibration and noise are intended to alert drivers that there is some form of change in the roadway they need to be aware of. Rumble strips are used on highways around the world, with major traffic agencies such as the United States Department of Transport crediting them for reducing serious injuries and fatalities on highways and roadways. For this reason, the strips are considered to be an efficient and safe way to adjust traffic flow to protect drivers and pedestrians in any specific area.

Rumble Strips vs. Speed Bumps

If you are planning the car park layout of your business premises, you may have wondered whether you should use rumble strips or install speed bumps. In order to determine which traffic calming method is best suited to your site, you need to understand the differences between each option.

Speed bumps are considered to be the most versatile form of traffic calming. They are typically used when vehicles are travelling at lower speeds of less than ten kilometres per hour. The steep profile on both sides of the pump creates a barrier that is up to 25 centimetres high. This forces drivers to reduce their speed dramatically or suffer the discomfort of being sharply bounced.

Many people assume that speed bumps and speed humps are the same things. However, speed humps are actually a flatter form of traffic calming measure. Since they don’t have the same steep sides, it is possible for vehicles to drive over speed humps comfortably even if they only reduce their speed to 30 kilometres per hour. In confined areas such as carparks, this reduced effectiveness makes speed humps impractical. A speed hump may be appropriate for a pedestrian crossing in an urban area, having vehicles driving around your car park at 30 kilometres an hour could still be very dangerous.

Rumble strips tend to make drivers a little more alert that the roadway is changing. While a driver may slow down to go over a speed bump on autopilot, the vibration and sound of rumble strips immediately alert the driver that there could be a danger to themselves or pedestrians. This can be vital if you have heavy vehicles such as forklift trucks operating in areas where employees or customers may be driving their cars.

Pros and Cons

Rumble strips are perfect in some situations, but in some cases, there may be a need for alternatives. We’ll go over some of the key benefits and downsides to rumble strips.

Pro: Driver Awareness

Inattentive drivers are maybe prone to running off a highway and losing control, resulting in a crash or collision. Fatigue is a major cause of collisions, truck drivers, delivery drivers and workers are on the road for a long time and can lose attention on-road and grow weary. Having a vibration travel through the car not only makes a loud sound but is felt by the driver, targeting two senses, able to jolt them awake.

Pro: Reduction of accidents

Accidents, head-on collisions and fatal crashes can be reduced by rumble strips. Numerous Australian highways and roads have continuous shoulder rumble strips installed, alerting drivers if they veer too close to the shoulder or center line.

Pro: Cost-effective

Rumble strip installation is an economical method to reduce the number of road crashes and incidents, compared to more expensive crash walls and guard rails.

Pro: Alert drivers to changing conditions

The main purpose of rumble strips is to combat driver inattention, on roads and that goes for alerting them to changing conditions. For example, coming to the end of the highway may be jarring and unexpected for a driver if there isn’t much forewarning. It can be dangerous to reduce speed suddenly without being prepared for it. Transverse rumble strips are a method to alert a driver of any changes on the road, such as the end of a highway, as they can’t be missed running across the road.

Con: Exterior noise

The main feature of a rumble strip is the noise, which is meant to alert the driver, but this can also be seen as a negative aspect for those outside the vehicle. If a rumble strip is installed near a suburban area the roadside noise will be increased by a large number. Installing rumble strips in populated areas should be considered thoroughly, weighing the reasons why it would be beneficial to the area.

Con: Potentially dangerous for cyclists

The weight of a bicycle is a lot less than that of a car, and rumble strips may be potentially dangerous to cyclists. If a tire of a bicycle catches on a rumble strip it may cause the rider to lose balance and tumble off, leaving them exposed to further dangerous conditions.

How do they reduce speed?

The speed of a travelling vehicle is entirely dependent on the driver, a rumble strip is designed to alert the driver of any changes, and hopefully, they slow down. Driving at a high speed along transverse rumble strips can get uncomfortable for the driver, which may also in turn cause them to slow to improve the driving conditions. So, while the rumble strip doesn’t play an active role in slowing a vehicle’s momentum, it can eliminate driver inattention, and make them aware of their surroundings, but in the end it’s up to the driver to slow down.

Types of Rumble Strips

There are multiple types of rumble strips, and their uses vary depending on the location they are installed. Some of the main types are:

Shoulder Rumble Strips: The most commonly seen rumble strips are shoulder rumble strips. They run on along the edge of the road beside or on the shoulder line to alert drivers that are drifting too close to the edge of the road, to prevent off-road crashes

Centerline Rumble Strips: Much like the shoulder rumble strip, the centerline rumble strips are installed running along the centre of the road, to help prevent any head-on collisions with opposing traffic.

Transverse Rumble Strips: To signify a driver of changing conditions ahead, such as a speed reduction transverse rumble strips are usually installed. They run along the road surface where the cars typically drive and are almost unavoidable. They send a vibration through the car and can be very uncomfortable if driven on at high speeds.

Can rumble strips damage your car?

Technically, yes, a rumble strip can damage your car’s suspension and tires. This isn’t to say they will though if driven on sensibly. Your car’s suspension and tires are prone to wear from any on the road, but usually, cars aren’t driven on rumble strips for so long that they would cause any noticeable damage. If a driver, continuously drove along them at a high speed, then yes, their car may suffer damage from them.

Get in touch for all your road safety needs

As we’ve established, rumble strips act as a method of alerting the driver to a changing road or any hazards that may be ahead, through tactile vibration. Rumble strips have a number of uses for keeping people safe. If you are considering installing rumble strips, Perth business owners should speak to us. The Image Extra team is available to discuss our range of traffic calming measures to help you to determine if rumble strips are the solution best suited to your specific needs from rumble strips, safety bollards, and bike racks.